The band had adopted the Casa Loma name by the time of its first recordings in 1929, shortly after it played an eight-month engagement at Casa Loma Hotel in Toronto. In 1930, the Casa Loma Orchestra was officially incorporated in New York as a corporation with the members all stockholders and board members. The band was fronted for the first few years by violinist Hank Biagini, although the eventual leader was saxophonist Glen Gray (1900-1963). Their mid-1930s appearances on the long-run radio comedy-variety program, the Camel Caravan (introduced with their theme, "Smoke Rings") increased their popularity. Interestingly enough, Gray chose not to conduct the band in the early years, playing in the saxophone section while violinist Mel Jenssen acted as conductor. In 1937, the band overwhelmingly voted in favor of Glen leading the orchestra, and Gray finally accepted the job.
Hits included "Casa Loma Stomp," "No Name Jive" and "Maniac's Ball". Part of the reason for the band's decline is that other big bands included in their books hard-swinging numbers emulating the hot Casa Loma style. In the late 1930s Gray took top billing, and by the mid-1940s (as the other original players left) Gray would come to own the band and the Casa Loma name. By 1950, the Casa Loma band had ceased touring, Gray retired to Massachusetts, and the later recordings on Capitol (beginning with Casa Loma in Hi-Fi in 1956 and continuing through the Sounds of the Great Bands series) were done by studio musicians in Hollywood (with several of Gray's "alumni" occasionally featured).
Jazz historian George A. Borgman wrote a book about Glen Gray and the orchestra. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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